Is it even possible to see the awestruck alpine town of Innsbruck in one day? Yes, it really is! Use this guide to plan your day trip to Innsbruck Austria. Rest assured you’ll be able to see all the “must” places with this ideal 1-day Innsbruck itinerary. So, let’s dive in! (Updated January 2023)
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About Innsbruck Austria
If you are wondering if Innsbruck is worth visiting, even for just a day, it most definitely is. Innsbruck is the kind of destination that leaves you speechless.
All around, towering over you, are the mountains. The jagged rock spires of the Nordkette range are incredibly majestic and are the backdrop for this beautiful alpine town.
Innsbruck is also the capital city of the Tyrol, or Tirol region, known as the capital of the Alps. And, since it lies very close to the border of Germany, this is a popular day trip from either country.
What is Innsbruck famous for?
Being surrounded by ski slopes during the winter and mountainous hiking trails during the summer makes this a bucket list destination for any adventurous traveller.
There are only three places that have held the honour of hosting the Olympics more than once, and Innsbruck is one of them. In fact, they have hosted 2 winter Olympics- 1964 and 1976. That has put them on the world stage of a sought-after destination.
Not adventurous? No problem, this town has enough charm and tourist attractions to capture anyone’s interest.
Innsbruck in One Day
1. Start at Triumphpfort
There’s no better way to start your one day in Innsbruck then at the Truimphal Arch. What a view! Through the archway you will get your first glimpse of city with the mountains in the background. The building of the Triumphal Arch was in celebration of Emperor Leopold I and Empress Maria Theresa engagement in 1765.
Continue through the Truimphal on Maria Theresien Strasse, a notable street in Innsbruck. Gaze upon the well-preserved century buildings on either side. This lively street also has some of Innsbruck’s best shopping.
Walk until you reach Annasaule, a column from 1703 of red marble. You’ve now reached the start of Old Town. Let’s explore the heart of Innsbruck.
2. Spend some time in Altstadt Innsbruck
Now it’s time to explore the Altstadt, or Old Town. It’s chock-full of 13th to 14th-century Baroque and Gothic architecture.
All of these beautiful buildings house museums, galleries, shops, restaurants, and cafes. The colourful buildings in the Old Town are decorated with wall murals and intricate metal signs hanging above the shop doors to indicate what lies inside.
Strolling through these attractive little streets is one of the best things to do in Innsbruck in one day.
3. Visit the Notable Buildings of Altstadt Innsbruck
There are several must-see buildings in Altstadt.
- Golden Roof, or Goldenes Dachl. Of all the places to visit in Innsbruck in 1 day, this is it! It’s the city’s most popular landmark. What makes it so unique is that the tiny balcony, used as a royal box, is adorned with 2,657 gilt copper tiles. On a sunny day, this balcony glistens in the sun.
- City Tower or Stadtturm. This medieval structure is from the 1400s. For many centuries it was used as a prison, today it serves as a watchtower with spiral stairs leading to incredible views of the city. and stands out from the other buildings due to its bright orangey-red walls of the historic Town Hall. Cost: 4.50€, pre-book your entrance ticket
- Helbling Haus. One of the prettiest buildings in Old Town is Helbling Haus. This impressive building is one of Innsbruck’s finest and most elaborate Baroque buildings.
- Hofkirche or Court Church. The gothic Church from 1553 is a must-see as part of your one day in Innsbruck. The interior is the real showstopper, full of beautiful Renaissance and Gothic details. It’s also where you will find Maximilian’s impressive tomb lined with 28 bronze life-size figures. Cost: 8€
- Hofburg or Imperial Palace. This palace is considered one of the top culturally significant buildings in Austria, making it one of the top places to visit in Innsbruck in a 1-day itinerary. Cost: 9,50€
- Innsbruck Cathedral or Dom Zu St. Jacob. This 1700s church was named after St James. This large cathedral features 57 bells and a fresco ceiling depicting the life of the apostle James. Cost: free (1€ charge for photos)
- Tyrolean Folk Museum. An arts and cultural museum which includes an armoury exhibit (free to enter). Cost: receive a 50% price reduction with Hofkirche ticket
4. Lunch in Altstadt Innsbruck
While you’re spending time in Old Town, this is the perfect spot to try another restaurant for lunch. A couple of recommendations are:
- Cafe Munding – housed in a Baroque building from 1720 – go to the back, past the coffee house to enjoy a typical Tyrolean meal
- Weisses Rossl – enjoy a traditional Tyrolean meal on their elevated terrace or inside in their cozy traditional dining room
- Markthalle – a large food hall along the Inn River where you can choose from a wide selection of vendors. It’s a casual hang-out spot for locals, even pop-up beer vendors appear outside in the warmer months
5. Photo Op at Pretty River Houses
After coming down from the Top of Innsbruck, it’s the perfect time to admire the colourful houses along River Inn, or Inns. Walk along the bridge running over the fast flowing river, and maybe even leave a love lock. You can’t help but not take a picture postcard photo in this popular locatioin. It’s a backdrop that is hard to beat!
6. Stroll Innsbrucker Hofgarten or Innsbruck’s Court Garden
Let’s walk off your hearty Tyrolean lunch with a stroll through Innsbrucker Hofgarten, the city’s public garden and park. If visiting Innsbruck in the spring, be sure to go here. The gardens are bursting with colour with pretty springtime flowers. It’s also the place to catch the Hungerburgban Funicular to venture up to Nordkette. Your next activity.
7. Go to the Top of Innsbruck
Yes, even visiting Innsbruck in one day means you get to visit the Alps right from the centre of town. How cool is that? So, here’s how it works.
The Nordkettenbahn, features three separate sections:
- Innsbruck Congress Station to Hungerburg via funicular reaching 1,837 ft above sea level — pre-book your entrance ticket
- Hungerburg to the Seegrube station via cable car reaching 6,250 ft above sea level
- Seegrube station to Hafelekar via another cable car reaching 7,401 ft above sea level — pre-book your entrance ticket for Top of Innsbruck
Of all the things to do in your one day in Innsbruck, don’t skip this! The views from the Top of Innsbruck will leave you awestruck!
8. Choose your Next Experience
For your late afternoon activity, the choice is yours! Here are 4 recommended adventures to choose from.
- History Lovers. Visit the medieval Ambras Castle from 1565, which was once the residence of Archduke Ferdinand. Address: Schloßstraße 20 | Pre-book your entrance ticket
- Art & Cultural Lovers. Visit Kristallwelten or Swarovski Crystal World, a museum and art gallery designed to showcase the world-famous Swarovski crystal. The most impressive displays include the Crystal Dome, Crystal Theatre, and Crystal Forest. As well, the exterior garden features the Giant, a large landscaped waterfall in the shape of a human. Address: Kristallweltenstraße 1, Wattens, Austria Pre-book your skip-the-line entrance ticket
- Animal Lovers. Visit Europe’s highest-elevation zoo that can only be reached by funicular as part of the first stage of the Top of Innsbruck visit (see #6). The zoo animals are ones that you would only find within the Alp region. Pre-book your entrance ticket
- Adventure Lovers. Visit Innsbruck Bergiselschanze or Bergisel Ski Jump. Take the funicular or stairs to the top of the ski jumping hill which offers another view, although not quite as spectacular as the Top of Innsbruck. Cost: 9€
Things to Do at Night in Innsbruck
Your one day in Innsbruck is not over yet! Stay a little longer and enjoy a meal and experience the city at nighttime. Your Innsbruck in one day itineary can include some of these suggestions:
- Best Restaurants for Dinner – Ludwig (for the best burgers in Innsbruck), Die Wilderin (for the best seasonal and sustainable menu in Innsbruck), Oniriq (one of the best fine dining restaurants in Innsbruck) or Gasthof Goldener Adler (for the best local specialties in an elegant, historic building)
- Best Tyrolean Evening Experience – Enjoy traditional Austrian folk music, “shoe-slapping” dance and yodelling over a 3-course meal. The Gundolf Family has been entertaining guests since 1967. This top-rated activity is a fun night out in Innsbruck. Reserve this fun experience here
- Best Cocktail Bars – Liquid Diary (Adolf-Pichler-Platz 2), M + M Bar (Innstraße 45), Dunlin Bar (Meraner Str. 6)
- Casino Innsbruck – enjoy a fun night at the casino – with dinner, entertainment and games (Salurner Str. 15)
FAQs About Innsbruck
How did Innsbruck get its name?
Innsbruck got its name from the river Inn that flows through the city. When translated in English, Innsbruck means the bridge over the inn. As far back as the 1100s, there was a bridge that was built over the Inn River. Today, there are 12 bridges in Innsbruck, with the most popular being Innbrücke.
How do you get to Innsbruck?
Getting to Innsbruck is easiest by train. The city of Innsbruck is well connected to other European countries like Munich, Germany, Salzburg, Vienna, and Verona, Italy. The train station is a short walk to the city centre of Maria Theresien Strasse.
How do you get around Innsbruck?
Innsbruck is a small, compact, walkable city making it easy to visit Innsbruck in one day. A fun way for Innsbruck sightseeing is to take the cable car called Hungerburgbahn where it takes you through the city centre and over the bridge crossing River Inn.
Is one day enough in Innsbruck?
Yes, one day in Innsbruck is enough to see all the must-see sights in the Old Town like Golden Roof, Stadtturm, and Helbling Haus. As well as going to the Top of Innsbruck.
What should you not miss in Innsbruck?
The unmissable things to do in your one day in Innsbruck
2. Hofburg and Hofkirche
3. Cable car to the Top of Innsbruck
4. Golden Roof
5. Coffee house for apple strudel or sacher torte
What are some tips for visiting Innsbruck?
If you are planning one day in Innsbruck, make the most of your time by booking entrance tickets in advance to avoid any long lines. That includes making lunch and dinner reservations for the restaurants of your choice. Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget your camera!
What is the best time to visit Innsbruck?
Innsbruck can be enjoyed in every season. However, the most popular times to visit Innbruck is winter, followed by summer. Spring
What are the things to do in Innbruck in the winter?
The top things to do in Innsbruck in the winter include:
1. Axamer Lizum, just 20 km from the city centre offers a snow park and race park
2. Patscherkofel, a former Olympic venue, features a Children’s World and a snow park for freestylers
3. Cross-country skiing locations are Glungezer, Kalte Kuchl, Schartenkogel, and Halsmarter
4. Igls Bobsleigh Centre where you can try luge, skeleton, and bobsleigh runs
5. Bergisel Ski Jump which towers over the city on the lush Bergisel Hill
6. Take a scenic cable car ride- there are a series of 4 starting at the Hungerburg 7. Funicular and ending with the Hafelekar peak offering the highest viewing point and incredible panoramic views.
8. Visit Olympia SkiWorld collective where you can ski the Alps, ski jump
Day Trips Beyond Innsbruck
IBeyond your one day in Innsbruck, here are some other resources that may help plan your trip to Austria and beyond.
- How to Spend One Day in Salzburg
- Guide to Munich
- Touring the Alpine Road in Germany
- Guide to Garmisch-Partnerkirchen in Germany
- Guide to Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany
- Guide to Lake Constance in Germany
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As a holidaymaker
This 1-day itinerary for Innsbruck will have you visit all the “must” sites. It offers a balance between sightseeing in the charming Old Town with a little adventure. Going to the Top of Innsbruck you will be awestruck by its scenic views. Also, this one day in Innsbruck allows you to choose your own adventure by choosing the activity that best matches your interests. I hope you have the opportunity to spend one day in Innsbruck just as I have done.